As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Whether you’re eight or eighty, there’s still plenty to learn in the world. Now, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to that impulse to learn, thanks to a world of internet articles, videos, and other content.
The problem, though, is sorting out the good from the bad. How do you structure all the world’s information into a meaningful sequence to best facilitate learning?
The answer, at least for entrepreneur Sal Kahn, is to build it yourself. Kahn came from a broken public school system to attend one of the top universities in the country. His experience, plus his time tutoring family members, gave him the inspiration to create Kahn Academy, an online classroom that is open to anyone.
The basics of Kahn are well-composed videos and a catalog of practice questions. The topics are all over the board. You can get a refresher on high school algebra or study electrical engineering. The videos are made to be kid-accessible, but many skills on the site are just as useful for adults. Kahn Academy features tutorials on several popular programming languages, lessons on advanced stock trading, and practice sessions for graduate admission tests like the GMAT.
Kahn Academy is growing in popularity among educators at all levels. Some schools rely on Kahn Academy to provide supplemental instruction to students who are struggling in math or science courses. Others use the website to provide advanced individual tutorials for gifted students who might otherwise become bored with the pace of their mathematics instruction.
If the videos and activities were the entirety of Kahn Academy, it would be a fantastic resource for learners of any age. That’s not all the site provides, though. It uses a smart system of gamification to build a feeling of rewards, too. Completing videos and answering questions earns “energy,” which can be used to customize your profile picture, impress your friends, or unlock small browser-based games. The website also offers “coach” tracking, so parents, tutors or teachers can see how long and under what circumstances students are using the system.
Summer is a time when many young minds can wander. Finding ways to keep kids intellectually engaged during school breaks can be a challenge. Kahn Academy helps by meeting children where they are. Left to their own devices, kids might spend hours watching videos on the internet. With a little direction, that can turn from mindless entertainment into the habits of lifelong learning.
If you’ve got a child who is going into an algebra class, it might also be a good idea to brush up on the topic by using the course. That way, when the time comes for homework help, not only do you have a good idea about what’s involved, you’ve also got ready-made resources to kickstart the process. Along the way, you can brush up on computer skills or get a little bit of advanced personal finance knowledge.
Kahn Academy is free to anyone. You need an email address to sign up and the videos can be a drain on metered web connections. Otherwise, this is a great bookmark to throw on a tablet and keep in your back pocket for a rainy day at home.